(AP) Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to announce Japan will join talks on a Pacific trade pact that would oblige the country to undertake major reforms, especially in farming.
The expected announcement later Friday confirming plans to seek participation in the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, is raising protests from farmers opposed to opening protected home markets to foreign competition.
Farmers are the traditional bastion of support for Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, but many in Japan view the pact as a way to overcome stubborn resistance to reforms essential for reviving the stagnant economy.
Japan's status as the leading U.S. ally in Asia also has swayed the decision to participate in the trade talks, angering some groups.
Prospects for a consensus among member nations on trade liberalization remain uncertain.